MortgageMortgage Rates

Could mortgage rates finally hit 8%?

Some forecasters say the 10-year Treasury yield could hit 5%

Mortgage rates kept climbing this week as spreads on the 10-year Treasury yield widened, reaching a 16-year high. 

Freddie Mac‘s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, which focuses on conventional and conforming loans with a 20% down payment, shows the 30-year fixed rate averaged 7.49% as of Oct. 5th, up 18 basis point from last week’s 7.31%. By contrast, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 6.66% a year ago at this time.

“Mortgage rates maintained their upward trajectory as the 10-year Treasury yield, a key benchmark, climbed,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Several factors, including shifts in inflation, the job market and uncertainty around the Federal Reserve’s next move, are contributing to the highest mortgage rates in a generation. Unsurprisingly, this is pulling back homebuyer demand.”

Other indices showed significantly higher mortgage rates this week.

HousingWire’s Mortgage Rates Center showed Optimal Blue’s 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans at 7.60% on Wednesday, compared to 7.43% the previous week. At Mortgage News Daily on Wednesday, the 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans was 7.70%, up from 7.65% the previous week.

On Thursday, the 10-year yield reached 4.72%, a 16-year high. At the beginning of the year, economists expected mortgage rates to fall to around 6% by the end of 2023. Now that such hope is lost, experts wonder whether rates will hit 8% this year. 

“The gap between the yield on the 10-year Treasury and the rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has been around 3 percentage points, so as the Treasury yield approaches 5%, an 8% mortgage rate does not seem unlikely,” Bright MLS Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant said in a statement. 

Mortgage-backed securities have cheapened to some of the widest levels in modern history in the past few weeks as global investors sell off government bonds and central bankers in Europe and the U.S. double-down on stiff monetary policy, according to Bloomberg. The average coupon yield on 30-year agency MBS was at around 6.4% at the end of September, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

The importance of the upcoming September jobs report 

The labor market plays a pivotal role in the Fed’s interest rate decisions by virtue of its capacity to drive wage growth, and by consequence keep inflation elevated. At the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the Fed tweaked its unemployment rate projection, revising it downward to 3.8% from 4.1% in June. 

“Therefore, the upcoming September jobs report, scheduled for release on Friday, will tell us whether the economy aligns with projections, and holds significant importance in clarifying the path forward,” Jiayi Xu, an economist at, said.

What will happen to the housing market if rates reach 8% ?

If rates reach the threshold of 8%, the housing market would take a big hit, turning it into a “market of necessity,” Sturtevant said in a statement. 

“Prices won’t drop dramatically, because inventory is still relatively low, but transactions could fall to levels not seen since 2010,” she said.

The U.S. is on track for roughly 4.15 million home sales in 2023, down from 5 million in 2022 and over 6 million in 2021. Historically about 5 million homes are sold in the U.S. each year. 

According to Zillow, about half of buyers today are first-time homebuyers. Loan officers told HousingWire that they are increasingly relying on FHA and VA loans, as well as down payment assistance programs.

Another sign that affordability is greatly strained: the share of adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) applications earlier this week rose to 8% of all loan applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The uptick in ARM demand came as homebuyers look for ways to lower their mortgage payments amid rate increases, Joel Kan, MBA’s vice president and deputy chief economist said in a statement.

In this marketplace, homebuilders are buying down interest rates to attract buyers and sellers are increasingly offering concessions, such as paying down points to lower the mortgage rate for buyers.

Nearly one-third of mortgage applications are for refinancings, but those figures would likely decline as rates tick up. Andy Walden, the head of enterprise research strategy at ICE Mortgage Technologies, noted last week that credit quality of refi candidates has begun to suffer, with better-credit homeowners opting for home equity loans or similar products as opposed to a cash-out refi. The average cash-out credit score of 715 is down more than 40 points in less than three years and is among the lowest in the post-Great Financial Crisis era.

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